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NJ probate laws and estate administration

Newark, NJ |
Filed under: Estate administration

Recently my mother has passed away leaving a NJ property she jointly inherited from my grandmother with 2 other siblings. My grandmother passed away 33 years ago. During that time the property has been maintained by my uncle who is one of the beneficiaries. The property taxes were paid by my mother and me. The executor of this property who is not a beneficiary has not done anything to adhere to his responsibilities as executor. He lives out of state and was a co-executor with my grandfather who also was not a beneficiary and is now deceased. My grandmothers will was probated 33 years ago. The estate has never been settled, obviously. I would like to take over the responsibilities of administrator but the current executor feels he could sell this property and fulfill his responsibities. My questions is there a statue of limitations on how long it should take to finalize and payout all assets. Is there a way to remove this executor because he has neglected his responsibilities?

The location of the house is in a very depressed neighborhood. Also, the house is in bad shape. The current executor wants to take his own funds or a lien on the house and fix it up to try add to its value. The house is beyond repair. To fixup the house it would cost $100k. The executor resides in another state and is in his 70's. The beneficiaries just want to sell this house. What can 3 out of the 4 beneficiaries do to stop him? Force him to step down?

Attorney Answers 2


This is a very common situation. Technically, he has breached his duties as executor but I would not press that point. I usually just call the tardy executor and offer to help them -- without replacing them. (I do not care whose name is on the final papers, I just want to get them in and close the matter.) In this case, I'd also try to convince him that fixing up the house is, well, nuts! He's a retired guy and he is going to risk his retirement on a house in a bad neighborhood? Once again, a reasonable conversation outlining the risks is all that it usually takes to make people abandon fantasies about rehabing the house (usually to preserve the memory of the person who lived there). Ideally the person who helps the executor should be an attorney but many accountants are very skilled at closing estates.

The above answer is not intended to be legal advice -- I'd need to know a lot more to do that. It is just a general suggestion about a possible way to resolve the impasse.

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Thanks for your question. Since I am an attorney, I cannot ethically give you specific legal advice on your situation, since you are not my client, but I can only provide you with general information that you may find helpful.

Generally, estates are normally closed within nine months to twelve months. I am wondering if perhaps this is a trustee, and not a executor of the estate. In either case, an action can be raised in the jurisdiction of either the estate or trust to compel action.

Without more information, the best advice that I can recommend to you is to contact a Estate Litigation attorney in your area. This information is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should accept legal advice only from a licensed legal professional with whom you have an attorney-client relationship.

Best of luck to you,

Shawn C. Newman, Esq.
Attorney At Law
1881 NE 26th Street, Suite 212E
Wilton Manors, FL 33305
(877) 552-9385
Licensed to practice law in New Jersey, Florida and the District of Columbia

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